Disney is going through a period of transition, with some high-profile executives and creatives leaving the company. This has led many to wonder, who exactly is leaving Disney and what does it mean for the future of the iconic company?
Why are people leaving Disney?
There are a few key factors that seem to be driving the departures from Disney:
- Leadership changes – With Bob Chapek taking over as CEO from Bob Iger, some attrition is expected as new leaders bring in their own teams.
- Streaming struggles – Disney has staked a lot on streaming with Disney+ and some executives have taken the blame for underperformance.
- Company cultural shifts – Disney is trying to transition to a more back-to-basics, family friendly image under Chapek.
- Pandemic impacts – The pandemic accelerated changes that were already happening at Disney.
Essentially, Disney is in a period of transformation which is leading to churn within its ranks. The high-profile nature of the company means these departures grab headlines.
Who has left Disney recently?
Here are some of the most prominent Disney executives and creatives who have left the company in the past couple years:
- Bob Iger – CEO from 2005 to 2020, left role earlier than expected.
- Kevin Mayer – Head of Disney Streaming, left to become CEO of TikTok.
- Agnes Chu – SVP of programming for Disney+ content, left after two years.
- Rick Homans – Head of Disney Studios, exited after three decades.
- Zenia Mucha – Disney’s head PR executive for nearly two decades.
- Peter Rice – Chairman of General Entertainment, exited after being passed over for bigger role.
- Steve Asbell – President of 20th Century Studios, left after reorganization.
- Gary Marsh – President and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Branded Television, stepped down after 30 years.
- Karey Burke – President of 20th Century Fox Television, resigned after restructuring.
As you can see, the departures span Disney’s executive suite, film leadership, and television content arms. Some were planned retirements while others were forced out or left for better opportunities.
What do these departures signal about Disney’s future direction?
While turnover is expected with any leadership transition, the scope of changes at Disney suggest some shifts in the company’s path forward:
- More focus on streaming – Disney+ struggles led to exit of Mayer; more digital-first leaders likely.
- Emphasis on core brands – Lesser focus on Fox assets from mergers under Iger; back to Disney, Pixar, Marvel, etc.
- Cost cutting – Executives like Rice and Asbell left amidst restructuring efforts and streamlining.
- Culture change – Chapek aims to reorient Disney around family audience and workers; departure of some old guard.
Disney is realigning around its core mission of serving families and younger audiences. This means focusing on core intellectual property, doubling down on streaming, cutting costs and promoting company culture. While disruptive in the short term, most analysts believe Disney will emerge stronger.
Who has replaced the departed executives?
Disney has been busy appointing new leadership to fill the voids left by departing executives. Here are some key appointments:
- Kareem Daniel – New chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
- Dana Walden – Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content
- Alan Bergman – Disney Studios Content chairman
- Jimmy Pitaro – Chairman of ESPN and sports content
- Latondra Newton – Chief Diversity Officer
The new team is a mix of internal promotions and external hires. They seem laser-focused on carrying out Chapek’s vision – with streaming, cost management, culture and diversity top priorities. With fresh perspective, they could reinvigorate Disney’s content and brands.
How will departures impact popular Disney franchises?
Disney oversees some of the world’s most beloved entertainment franchises. Here is how some key departures could impact franchises going forward:
|Less film output; greater focus on Disney+ shows
|Marvel Cinematic Universe
|Kevin Feige remains
|Steady course ahead for movies and Disney+
|Sequel machine continues uninterrupted
|James Cameron still steering; sequels on track
While some uncertainty surrounds Star Wars’ future, the MCU and Disney animation appear poised to continue their winning streaks. And Avatar remains fully in the steady hands of James Cameron.
Disney is going through major upheaval, with an executive and creative exodus driven by new leadership, streaming struggles, cost pressures and cultural realignment. While such disruption is jarring, most analysts feel it is necessary evolution to cement Disney’s future. The company is reorienting around core brands and younger audiences while trimming costs and investing in streaming. There is a plan in place, and a slate of new appointments to lead the charge. For these reasons, despite the concerns, Disney looks well positioned to thrive for decades to come.